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“Parental Leave is a Career Killer” – Not at Our Company!

“Parental Leave is a Career Killer” – Not at Our Company!

In late June, I returned to work from parental leave. I enjoyed the time with my son immensely. My heart was heavy when I pulled the front door shut behind me on my first day of work. But I was proud and excited. Proud of my company for having the courage to promote me out of parental leave into management. And excited about this next chapter in my professional life.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, mothers took parental leave for an average of 14.5 months in 2020, while fathers stayed at home for 3.7 months. One important reason for the reluctance of fathers could be that many employees regard parental leave as a career killer – not least because many employers treat it accordingly. 

But employees returning from parental leave are not less able than they were before. Ideally, they have even gained a better sense of responsibility and leadership skills – children are the best coaches in this respect. Many employees even use parental leave to look for new career prospects. So why shouldn’t they do so within their original workplace? 

If you give your colleagues more responsibility – if they want it – the return to work can be a motivational kick-start instead of a career roll-back. In my case, the offer of promotion to management definitely acted as an additional power boost. Especially because after the birth of a child you’re so busy caring for the offspring and reorganizing your own life, a new perspective is welcome. 

But straight into management? Is that a gamble on both sides? Can you reconcile this responsibility with the duties of a young mother? This is always an individual decision, of course. Our family council answered “yes” for us, as a team. The important thing is that the employer shares the appropriate positive mindset. ERSTE LESUNG – thanks to Christian’s tireless mentoring and empowerment – carries this mindset in its essence. 

I don’t see myself as a role model, but I am aware that many women want an employer who sets a positive example. So, as an Ersti, I consider myself lucky. As Managing Director, however, it is no longer simply an advantage to work here. Now I am the female employer who needs to maintain that mindset and has the responsibility in corporate planning to lead by positive example. I look forward to it! 

Szilvia Kalmár has worked at ERSTE LESUNG since 2018 and is the new Managing Director of ERSTE LESUNG since July 2022. Before returning from parental leave, she most recently coordinated the agency’s content-related consulting work as well as corporate communications.